Public World Scoping Study: Improving welfare and labour standards in global shipping

We all know and recognise the Fairstrade standard, taking comfort in the knowledge that the transaction of certified goods will economically benefit the workers that bring the product to market. With 90% of world trade transported by ships, its seems strange to think that a similar accreditation model does not exist for the shipping companies that transport the goods.

The promotion of good employment practices at the top – in the hope that worst offenders can somehow be ‘pulled’ up – explains the impetus behind a new scoping exercise undertaken by Public World, a social research enterprise. Funded by the Seafarers’ Trust, the study will aim to:

  • establish the feasibility of an employment standards benchmarking scheme for the shipping industry
  • explore the pros and cons of various design features
  • identify potential partners, within and outside the industry
  • consider funding options with a view to financial sustainability
  • define appropriate quality criteria
  • propose a positive forward-looking strategy and next steps

The project will initially look at good employment practices in freight transport. It will explore various models of accreditation including badge scheme, awards and promotion. Most importantly, the study will begin identifying the criteria which can best evaluate employment practice – this might be accomplished by an analysis of individual ILO complaints, collective agreements or even internal policies and compliance.

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